US embassy cables: 2009 High Profile Gov. Official Confirms Transfer of Power, before Revolution
XXXXXXXXXXXX: MILITARY WILL ENSURE TRANSFER OF POWER
Ref ID: 09CAIRO1468
Date: 7/30/2009 14:44
Origin: Embassy Cairo
DE RUEHEG #1468/01 2111444
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 301444Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION
01 OF 02 CAIRO 001468
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/27/2029
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, KDEM, EG
SUBJECT: XXXXXXXXXXXX: MILITARY WILL ENSURE TRANSFER OF POWER
REF: 08 CAIRO 2091
Classified By: Economic-Political Minister-Counselor Donald A. Blome for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. KEY POINTS — (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX dismissed public and media speculation about succession. XXXXXXXXXXXX said Egyptian military and security services would ensure a smooth transfer of power, even to a civilian. — (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX called opposition parties weak and democracy a “long term goal.” XXXXXXXXXXXX said that the MB had no legitimate political role, adding that mixing religion and politics in Egypt was not wise and would not be permitted.
2.(S) Comment: XXXXXXXXXXXX is an XXXXXXXXXXXX who has held a number of key positions. His assurances that the Egyptian military and security services would ensure a smooth succession to a civilian (by implication Gamal Mubarak) were unusually straightforward and blunt. The idea that the military remains a key political and economic force is conventional wisdom here. However, other observers tell us that the military has grown less influential, more fractured and its leadership weaker in recent years (reftel). They suggest that in a succession scenario in which President Mubarak is no longer present, outcomes are less predictable. End comment.
3.(S) On XXXXXXXXXXXX, PolOff met with XXXXXXXXXXXX. Without prompting, XXXXXXXXXXXX offered newly-arrived PolOff advice on how to approach political issues in Egypt. XXXXXXXXXXXX counseled PolOff not to “run around” town asking questions about Egypt’s next leader, suggesting that most offered only opinions not facts. XXXXXXXXXXXX said that this kind of wide-ranging engagement “by our friends” demonstrated a certain “naivete.” XXXXXXXXXXXX suggested that PolOff also steer clear of the many uncorroborated reports and misguided analysis in the local media. XXXXXXXXXXXX also underscored a common XXXXXXXXXXXX refrain that Egypt’s opposition political parties were weak and self-serving.
4.(S) XXXXXXXXXXXX’s most important message, XXXXXXXXXXXX said was to always keep in mind that “the real center of power in Egypt is the military,” a reference XXXXXXXXXXXX said included all security forces. XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that while the military did not intervene directly in matters of day to day governance, it leaders were determined to maintain order and that the importance of a “legal transition” should not be underestimated. XXXXXXXXXXXX did acknowledge that the military is concerned about maintaining its “corporate interests,” but was emphatic in his declaration of their commitment to a “constitutional” transition of power. XXXXXXXXXXXX went on to say that the military has “no objection to a civilian” as the next president (a remark that can be interpreted as a pointed reference to Gamal Mubarak). XXXXXXXXXXXX then reiterated that the XXXXXXXXXXXX has not yet selected its candidate for the 2011 presidential elections (a point Gamal Mubarak himself has made to us).
5.(S) XXXXXXXXXXXX acknowledged there would be some violence around the upcoming 2010 parliamentary and 2011 presidential elections, but suggested security forces would be able to keep it under control. Widespread politically-motivated unrest, XXXXXXXXXXXX said, was not likely because it was not part of the “Egyptian mentality.” Threats to daily survival, not politics, were the only thing to bring Egyptians to the streets en masse. XXXXXXXXXXXX said the XXXXXXXXXXXX focus on economic reform would continue up to the elections and after any transition of power. XXXXXXXXXXXX added that Egypt was moving towards democracy, but that a transition from a “pharoanic” political system would take a long time.
6.(S) Disdainful of its political import, XXXXXXXXXXXX said the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) was not a credible political organization. As evidence of their pure self-interest, XXXXXXXXXXXX cited the MB’s refusal to “integrate” and become a part of the mainstream political process despite invitations from the last three Egyptian presidents. XXXXXXXXXXXX referred to recent arrests of MB members (septel) as evidence they operated extra-legally. XXXXXXXXXXXX warned that because Egyptians are very religious people, politics and religion is a volatile mix. In a more strident tone, XXXXXXXXXXXX went on to say that XXXXXXXXXXXX, and President Mubarak, “would not tolerate” the existence of CAIRO 00001468 002 OF 002 political parties with a religious agenda whether Muslim or Christian and suggested that there was no such thing as a “moderate Islamist.”